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Teen Terror Suspect Appears in Chicago Court; Progress on Anti- ISIS Campaign in Iraq, Syria; Turkey: No Ground Action Alone Against ISIS; New Fears after First U.S. Ebola Death; Interview with Mayor Mike Rawlings; Where is Kim Jong-Un; Search for UVA Student Nears Crucial Point

Aired October 9, 2014 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, teen terror suspect. A Chicago area youth appears in federal court, accused of trying to join ISIS. So what evidence will the government use against him?

Ebola crisis. Congress clears the way for thousands of U.S. military personnel to deploy to the hot zone in Liberia. Can a massive American military response help contain the virus?

North Korea mystery. The leader, Kim Jong-un, not seen in public for weeks, raising questions about who's really in charge. Will he show up for an important political celebration just a few hours from now?

And possible leads. Experts are studying high-definition aerial photos in the search for missing college student Hannah Graham. Do they contain new clues?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A Chicago area teenager suspected of trying to join ISIS forces in Syria appearing in federal court today. The 19-year-old, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization could get up to 15 years in prison.

We're also covering all the latest developments in the Ebola crisis and more this hour with our correspondents and our guests. Let's begin with CNN's Ted Rowlands in Chicago with the very latest. Ted, what happened in court?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was to be a detention hearing for Khan to see if this 19-year-old would be free on bail if his trial proceeded. However, this hearing was continued, so Khan will be held without bail for another 10 days and he'll be back in federal court.

Now after this hearing, we heard for the first time from Khan's lawyer, with his parents standing behind him. His lawyer argued that this is all just political, that ISIS really isn't a threat, and Khan has done nothing wrong.


THOMAS DURKIN, KHAN'S LAWYER: In my opinion's ISIS is not a threat to the United States, and there are a lot of people who share that view. So if ISIS isn't a threat to the United States, I don't know how could be. In a manner of weeks, ISIS has become the most dangerous group on the face of the earth because they made -- they beheaded a few people and very cleverly with public media.


ROWLANDS: He went on to say, Wolf, that his client is very intelligent and very religious. While many people may not agree with his religious beliefs, they are his beliefs. He's an American citizen, and he is entitled to that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You were in the courtroom, Ted. What was your impression of this 19-year-old?

ROWLANDS: He is a teenager. He's a young man. He comes across as being even younger than 19, possibly. He's slight, not menacing by any stretch of the imagination, talking to people who know him from his mosque. He's a very religious, very studious young man who made this decision, apparently, according to the federal government, to go overseas to fight for ISIS.

BLITZER: We'll have more on this story coming up later. Thanks very much, Ted Rowlands in Chicago.

Meanwhile, ISIS forces are gaining ground in their effort to take the Syrian city of Kobani, only yards away from the Turkish border. The terrorists are now set to control a third of the town, despite repeated U.S.-led airstrikes. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been analyzing what the Pentagon is saying about this. Jim, what is the latest?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we did is we looked at the map of all the airstrikes so far, and where they've been focused, two months into the campaign in Iraq, about two weeks into the campaign in Syria to see where the U.S.-led coalition is focusing its air power.

No. 1 so far in terms of the number of strikes, 98 airstrikes around the Mosul dam. A key infrastructure taken back from ISIS by the U.S.- led coalition as well as Kurdish and the Iraqi fighters on the ground.

No. 2, Erbil. Forty-one strikes there. This had been a key place where they were holding back the ISIS advance against where the Kurds are based.

But what's the No. 3 target in all of Iraq and Syria? It's right up here. It's Kobani. Thirty-seven strikes so far, and they're adding another half a dozen or so strikes every day. That's more than in Sinjar. You remember that's where the Yazidi people were holed up under the threat of genocide, which really kicked off this campaign. It's more than the number of strikes around Baghdad, of course, the capital, perhaps the most important city in the whole war. And it's more than the mobile refineries, oil refineries that are the key source of ISIS funding which are a real focus of the campaign. So this, Wolf, despite the fact that the Pentagon says that air

strikes will not save Kobani and despite the fact that U.S. officials are repeating that Kobani is not strategically important and, in fact, saying Kobani may very well fall, as will -- may other cities in Syria, despite the U.S.-led campaign.

But it's interesting. Still focusing a lot of very expensive U.S. air power right here.

BLITZER: And Kobani, we'll see what happens. A critically important place, at least for now. Thanks very much.

Turkish forces, they're watching all of this unfold from their side of the border. As I said, only a few yards away. But the country's foreign minister says it's not realistic to expect Turkey to launch ground action against ISIS alone.

Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is working this part of the story for us -- Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, U.S. Envoy General John Allen arrived in Turkey today to convince a key member of the coalition to prevent the slaughter of thousands of Kurds on its doorstep and another town from falling to ISIS.


LABOTT (voice-over): The Kurdish minority inside Turkey continues to rise up. With Kobani on the verge of falling to ISIS, there are angry pleas for the government to save the Kurds inside Syria, erupted into violent clashes with riot police.

Today, the U.S. ramped up the pressure, sending President Obama's coalition envoy to press for Turkey to step up and use its substantial military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Urgent and rapid steps are need to hold ISIS capabilities and General Allen and Ambassador McGuirk will make that clear in their meetings with Turkish officials.

LABOTT: U.S. officials tell CNN there is a growing frustration with Turkey's refusal to act. Turkish tanks and soldiers stand motionless amid gunfire and smoke rising across the border.

The parliament greenlit military action inside Syria, and today the foreign minister once again said airstrikes alone will not stop ISIS. But President Recep Erdogan has cited inaction against President Assad inside Syria is an excuse for his own. He wants a buffer zone to ward off the

American officials see Turkey's foot dragging in Kobani as a way to squeeze both Kurds inside Syria and at home, where they are negotiating with but have been fighting for 30 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it falls, that will be a dramatic development. And it will, of course, expose Turkey to 500 miles of ISIS-controlled territory on its southern boundary. They don't want that. But they want to leverage the possible fall of Kobani to pressure both us and the Syrian Kurds to a more -- a line more pleasing to Turkey. It's typical of them.

LABOTT: The prime minister told CNN's Christiane Amanpour politics was not at play.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER: We have done everything possible to help people of Kobani, because they are our brothers and sisters. We don't see them as Kurds or Turkmen or Arabs.

LABOTT: The U.S. wants to avoid a break with Turkey which could jeopardize the fragile Arab and Muslim coalition against ISIS.


LABOTT: And as the main transit route for foreign fighters seeking to join ISIS, the U.S. also wants Turkey to close its borders and crack down on black market sales of illegal oil, a main funding source for ISIS activities. Officials say this will be just as important as the military action over the long term, and a focus of General Allen's conversations in the next few days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Elise, thanks very much.

Let's get some more now with the Republican congressman, Ed Royce of California. He's joining us from Orange County and is the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us. I know you've studied this closely. What could cause Turkey, in your opinion, to join this fight on the ground in Kobani against ISIS?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, the offer the Turks have made is a no-fly zone. If they could get that no-fly zone, which would protect their border, they would -- they would accept an arrangement. But at this point, the administration does not want to be tied to that no-fly zone.

There's another observation that the Turks have made and that is we spent two weeks watching that town be shelled with artillery and tank fire without ordering up any airstrikes. We went two weeks with the town being shelled by ISIS without responding at all, and now we're responding with five planes a day. They don't consider that serious. And I think a lot of our military have second thoughts about why it's taking so long to get any kind of action on the ground in terms of bringing in airstrikes or getting any weapons in to Kurds.

BLITZER: What you're saying, I just want to be precise, they want the U.S. to operate a no-fly zone over that part of Syria. It's not Turkey with the no-fly zone. The U.S. would do it? Is that what you're saying?

ROYCE: That's what they're asking for, but it seems that if the United States led with the initial no-fly zone along the Turkish border, we could then get the Jordanians, the Saudis, the UAE, Kuwaiti air force to enforce this, so that we have that component of the coalition. They all have air force there that can be used, you know, offensively.

But frankly, it's -- it's mostly just an overflight, and if that were done, I think that that could bring the Turks in and provide the infantry on the ground. You can either do that or you can get the weapons into the hands of the Kurds.

But right now, Kurdish forces in both Iraq and in Syria are fighting only with rifles. They have no -- up against these tanks and up against artillery, they have no long-range borders, no artillery, no anti-tank missiles, no armor whatsoever. And that's just not going to work. That's not going to hold back ISIS.

BLITZER: How much of this, if any, do you believe Turkey's reluctance is because they don't want to aid the Kurds? As you know, they've got their own problem with Kurds in Turkey. The militant PKK, for example.

ROYCE: I think that's the Turkish military view. The military doesn't like the idea of aiding the Kurds in any way. On the other hand, they're conflicted, because the thought that ISIS is going to be right up on the Turkish border there. And taking all of the Christian and Kurdish area, that then leaves them with a situation with more ISIS fighters trying to get into Syria through Turkey.

And that's been a problem, because these foreign fighters are what is swelling the ranks and the fact that they open up that route there will compound the problem for infiltration through Turkey into the ISIS ranks.

BLITZER: The Turks make a fair point. Why are they being singled out for refusing to send in ground forces when none of the other 27 NATO allies are willing to do so?

ROYCE: Right. And it seems to me that, if we wanted Turkey to send in the ground forces for Turkey to supply that infantry, then it would have been worthwhile to at least consider their request for that no- fly zone. If they -- if they were willing to do that quid pro quo for a no-fly zone, that would solve two problems. Not only would that bring them in, but it also might solve the problem of these barrel bombs being dropped on Aleppo, which is a real concern, humanitarian concern the Kurds have. Those are brother Sunnis to them. And they feel very strongly about the humanitarian consequences of the chemical weapons and the barrel bombs that have been dropped on Aleppo, which is close to the Turkish border.

BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, I want you to stand by. I have more questions about U.S.-led airstrikes, what's going on in Syria and Iraq, the ISIS threat here in the United States. Much more of my interview with the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee when we come back.


BLITZER: Fresh airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS forces who now control about a third of the Syrian city of Kobani just across the border from Turkey. About two dozen nations are now contributing in one way or another to the fight against ISIS. But are all of them doing enough?

We're back with Republican Congressman Ed Royce out in California. He's chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I know you want these coalition partners to do more. But be specific, Mr. Chairman. What else would you like to see them do?

ROYCE: Well, the one thing we would like to see out of our coalition partners, our NATO ally in Turkey, is providing infantry. Their tank battalions are right over the border. They're three football leagues away from the front.

And if they would open up with their artillery against the ISIS artillery, they could do an awful lot of damage. Now, obviously, the response from Turkey has been, well, we want to see some kind of a strategy that guarantees two things.

One is sort of a safe haven along the border for the refugees, because "We in Turkey, so says their government, are tired of housing all of the refugees. We want overflights to -- to secure that area. And second, we want to make sure you make it impossible for the air force of Assad to go up and drop these barrel bombs on Aleppo and on other targets."

So they're arguing from a humanitarian standpoint that they want the other coalition partners to do that in exchange for them actually engaging with their -- with their infantry and, frankly, there along the border.

I think it's time to have a real discussion with them about that, because otherwise we are going to see a humanitarian nightmare. When this town falls, all of the Christians, all of the Kurds, the other apostate, you know, Sunnis that are in that town are going to fall to the sword.

And we really need, frankly, to be able to get out of the chain of command a quicker decision. To go two weeks, as I pointed out, to go two weeks without any airstrikes against the artillery or the armor and now to be only doing one a day, five a day at most, I mean, it just -- it just makes it look like it's for show; and this is what people in the military tell me. It does not look like a serious effort.

BLITZER: I'm with you, Mr. Chairman. I foresee if this town of Kobani goes -- and it's not just Kurds; you're absolutely right. There's Christians; there are a lot of Arabs; there's Turkmen and there's all sorts of groups who live there. There will be a blood bath. There will be a massacre by ISIS in the town square. They'll go with their swords or guns and they're going to kill a lot of innocent people.

And yet the world seems to be watching this and saying, you know what? If it happens, it happens. There's nothing much that the U.S. or the others can do. And that would be a tragic moment indeed. ROYCE: And it would be a messaging moment, wouldn't it? Because at

that point, on the Internet, the caliphate on the Internet sends a message, "Nothing can stop us. Look at this, we just -- we just took out these infidels, these apostates, and we put them to death. And we are on the march, so come join us. God is with us. Come join us. We're going to -- we're going to continue to expand our caliphate."

And this is the thing that worries me, is the messaging. When you allow these victories city by city, and you don't take concerted action, you don't -- you don't use the assets at your disposal and you don't have a strategy to move in quickly when you see them begin to surround a town and hit that force hard, you're ending up creating a momentum here that's going to be harder and harder to stop.

BLITZER: Ed Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.

ROYCE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: These are critical hours right now.

Coming up, new fears after the first U.S. Ebola death. We're going to ask the mayor of Dallas, Texas, what's being done to keep the deadly virus from spreading into his community.

We're also keeping a close eye on what's happening in North Korea. Right now, the country's (ph) leader hasn't been seen in weeks. Will he make an appearance at a nationally-important event that's about to get way in the next few hours? We're watching North Korea. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There's growing anxiety following the death of the first U.S. Ebola patient. New questions now being asked about why a Dallas hospital initially sent the man away, potentially exposing dozens of other people to the deadly virus.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us now from Dallas with more on the worry, the uncertainty that's going on right now. What is the latest, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest is that the hospital and members of the family have been making statements following the death of Thomas Eric Duncan. I want to read to you what Mr. Duncan's uncle recently set out.

He said, "It is suspicious to us that all the white patients in the United States survived this and one black patient passed away."

Now meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control is doing everything that it can to make sure that a case like this doesn't happen again.


COHEN (voice-over): The director of the Centers for Disease Control said Thursday he has seen almost nothing like Ebola.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CDC: I will say that, in the 30 years I've been working in public health, the only other thing like this has been AIDS, and we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS.

COHEN: Nowhere is that possibly more true than Liberia, which has been hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the healthcare system is struggling to cope.

CNN's Nima Elbagir reports on the struggles of health workers there.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Blood-splattered and limp, too weak to hold up his head, a nurse struggles under the weight of a desperately ill patient. The nurse agreeing to wear a camera to give us a glimpse of the bleak reality he witnesses daily here at this government-run treatment center. Today the nurse managed to get this patient to drink water. It's a small victory.

COHEN: Meanwhile, questions persist today surrounding the death Wednesday of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan's treatment was unlike that given to other Ebola victims being treated here, prompting some to ask what went wrong.

PASTOR GEORGE MASON, WILSHIRE BAPTIST CHURCH: What if he had -- they had taken him right away? And what if they had been able to get the treatment to him earlier?

COHEN: Duncan was initially sent home from a Dallas hospital with antibiotics, despite showing Ebola-like symptoms and telling a hospital nurse he had just came back from Liberia. When he was finally hospitalized, three days later, in worse condition, doctors waited six days after his admission to give him an experimental drug.

But there's some relief in Texas as a hospitalized Dallas County sheriff's deputy tested negative for Ebola. For a brief time, the deputy had been in the Dallas apartment where Duncan had been staying.

CLAY JENKINS (PH), DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: For the public, every day that we go by without any of those 48 showing symptoms is a day that you should have more confidence that you are going to be OK.

COHEN: Still, no one's making any promises the United States won't see any more cases.

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, HHS SECRETARY: I don't think we're making a claim that anything is 100 percent secure, but what's most important is we know. We know how to contain.


COHEN: Now, we got a statement from Presbyterian Hospital just a while ago that said that Mr. Duncan was given his experimental medication as soon as his physicians determined that his condition warranted it. Now I've spoken to many doctors who have treated Ebola patients. They

emphasize, the sooner you get medicine, the better. The sooner you get it, the better. So it's not clear why this hospital chose to wait six days to give Mr. Duncan an experimental medication -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But it's by no means certain, is it, Elizabeth, that even if they had given that medication to him earlier, he would have survived, right?

COHEN: That's correct. But hospitals in Nebraska, for example, or Emory, they chose to give these experimental medications as early as possible in the hopes that they would work. You're right, there's no proof that any of this works.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, a lot to be learned about Ebola. Thanks very, very much.

The Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, is promising to do everything possible to keep the Ebola virus from spreading into his community. At a city council meeting, the mayor said that Thomas Duncan's death hurts deeply. He also called the case an isolated incident.

Mayor Rawlings is joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for joining us. What's the most important lesson, you, the community of Dallas, has learned from this experience?

MAYOR MIKE RAWLINGS, DALLAS: Well, I think you have to communicate frankly, honestly, and you have to believe in science. If you -- if you do that and all those things are problematic by their nature, people will do the right thing.

We're focused -- you're right, we're focused on containment. We've got low-risk, high-risk people we're checking twice a day. Their fever has not gone up. And we're focused on that we're trying to make sure that we minimize anxiety and hysteria on this. There's zero percent chance you can get this if you don't come in contact with somebody that has this disease and a lot of people don't believe that yet. So we keep saying it.

BLITZER: The deputy sheriff, who's apparently OK right now, he was never in direct contact with Mr. Duncan.


BLITZER: But he was right. Yet 24 hours ago and we were watching helicopters do live coverage of this ambulance rushing him to a hospital. What happened there?

RAWLINGS: That's an example of people who say we're going to be overly cautious to move to hysteria. You know, arguably, he shouldn't have even been given the Ebola test but I think we wanted to make sure we proved that this man was not -- did not have Ebola because too many people were concerned he had it. And the predictions of all the immunologists came out correct. And so

we have to believe in science. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be anxious. That shouldn't be -- we shouldn't take every action possible but we have to communicate to each other and then live the protocol that people felt. When we miss the protocol, that's when mistakes happen.

BLITZER: Yes. Because you see the pictures we're showing our viewers. Those pictures of the space suits and all the protective gear, the guy being rushed to the hospital even though he had never been in direct contact with Mr. Duncan. He had been to the apartment and all of a sudden people say maybe you could get Ebola from just being in the apartment and touching something. That's -- based on everything you've heard, that's really unlikely?

RAWLINGS: They say it's zero percent. This is Ebola virus, not a norovirus. So it's very wimpy on the outside of your body. Vicious inside but wimpy on the outside. So hopefully this case will teach Dallas and other people around the country that they don't need to panic in this situation.

BLITZER: I want to read to you a statement. This is from Josephus Weeks, Mr. Duncan's nephew. Because a lot of folks are talking about this. And I want to give you chance to respond. He writes -- says this. "It is suspicious to us that all the white patients survived and this one black patient passed away. It took eight days to get a medicine. He didn't begin treatment in Africa. He began treatment here but he wasn't given a chance."

Now you're the mayor of Dallas. Give us your reaction when you hear that kind of problem?

RAWLINGS: I just don't believe it. I don't believe that's the way that human beings act in Dallas, Texas, and I don't believe that that's the way the leaders of Presbyterian Hospital act as well. We needed to move faster on some issues but that is something that I just don't buy.

BLITZER: Yes. I think the big mistake was the initial mistake when he went to the emergency room and they didn't admit him right away.


BLITZER: Even though he told a nurse he had just come from Liberia, they let him go back to the apartment for two days and that obviously was a major blunder, right?

RAWLINGS: Well, I'll tell you, there are missteps along the way. There's no question about that. It's something a mayor we've got to understand. We've got a mathematical chaos happening out there in the world with this disease that can show up at any place at any time but we expect everybody to be 100 percent prepared throughout the United States and when we're not, we make mistakes like this.

We've got to do it. I believe it. But it's also naive to believe that every city, every county across America is going to be perfect. BLITZER: Yes. But the most important thing right now is to learn

from those mistakes.

RAWLINGS: Exactly.

BLITZER: Make sure we don't repeat those mistakes and I think everyone around the country, probably much of the world, saw what happened in Dallas and they are learning from that one initial mistake and hopefully it won't happen again.

RAWLINGS: Here, here.

BLITZER: Especially if someone shows up with symptoms. And they say they just came in from West Africa, that should be a red flag right there.

Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck to you, good luck to everyone in Dallas. We'll be staying in close touch.

RAWLINGS: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Coming up, could the next few hours clear up a huge mystery in North Korea? Will the country's unpredictable leader finally appear in public?

And searchers say they are nearing an important turning point in the hunt for a missing University of Virginia student.


BLITZER: Any time now we make get an initial indication of whether a major power shakeup is taking place in North Korea. We're monitoring the country's state-run television to see if the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un shows up for an important celebration. He hasn't been seen in weeks.

CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's been monitoring developments.

What's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in just a few hours now that major celebration begins in North Korea. It's called the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. It's an event Kim Jong- Un went to last year.

U.S. intelligence officials tell us they are watching this event closely. The ramifications if Kim shows up and if he doesn't are huge.


TODD (voice-over): It's the most anticipated North Korean propaganda display in years. Friday's anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. Will Kim Jong-Un emerge after staying out of public view for more than a month? MICHAEL MADDEN, NK LEADERSHIP WATCH: If he doesn't appear by the

beginning of next week, then I think the rumors -- a lot of the rumors and theories about his disappearance, it's really going to go into overdrive.

TODD: Including rumors of a coup with the North Korean military now calling the shots. A White House official tells CNN, quote, "that appears to be a false rumor." Experts say when something big happens inside North Korea, it's often signaled by a large-scale military movement. A South Korean official tells CNN, his government has seen no sign of that in recent days but that doesn't mean that something is not going on inside the palace.

General Choi Kyung Song, the shadowy commander of North Korea's special forces who's known Kim since he was a boy could be crucial.

These are the forces that protect Kim Jong-Un. He could easily turn against him if they thought he was taking the wrong course. If he would try to rebuild power behind him and not in the military, this could lead to action by part of that palace guard and cripple his power.

TODD: If Kim's power is crippled, it's ominous. North Korea's stability is based on the Kim dynasty. And there aren't many other options in the family. Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong is believed to be handling important duties but not seen as someone who could run the entire government. Their father's oldest son, Kim Jong-Nam is said to be a gambler who once made an embarrassing botched attempt to enter Japan on a fake passport to go to Disneyland.

MADDEN: And there's a lot of accounts about Kim Jong-Nam not necessarily getting along well with Kim Jong-Un, his half brother.

TODD: The middle son Kim Jong-Chul was also passed over in favor of the younger Kim Jong-Un.

MADDEN: Kim Jong-Chul is interested in the arts and in the media and in culture and things like that. He hasn't really expressed an interest in North Korean politics and North Korean politics is practiced. So it's probably a job that he would not necessarily want to take if it was offered to him.


TODD: So if the Kim dynasty is to survive, it appears to be all or nothing with Kim Jong-Un and he is setting new marks for himself for a lack of visibility. This chart is from the Web site It shows his public appearances since January of last year. You can see they spiked in June of last year. 32 then. Then they kind of went down and up slightly. And then since July of this year, look, they have just plummeted.

And the longest absence of a supreme leader before this, 24 days. He has just broken that record by two weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're only a few hours away from whether or not he shows up at this event in North Korea.

Brian, thanks very, very much.

And to our viewers if you join Brian for a Facebook chat about Kim Jong-Un, right at the top of the hour, 6:00 p.m. Eastern in THE SITUATION ROOM Facebook page, you can head over there right now to submit your questions.

Up next, new details about the search for a missing University Virginia student. We're also getting new information from the attorney for the main suspect in the woman's disappearance.

First though, a preview of the amazing series coming up here on CNN. It's a powerful journey of self discovery.


NARRATOR: CNN, all next week, they traveled the world to chase the story but not just anyone's story. Their own.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: It's going to be a journey of surprises.

NARRATOR: The story of how they came to be.

BOURDAIN: I had a great, great, great grandfather come over to Paraguay around the 1850s.

BLITZER: My grandparents died here.

NARRATOR: The story of their ancestors.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: This is where my great grandmother was given up for adoption.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC 360: My dad's report card going back to 1944.

NARRATOR: Their history.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These records go back 40 generations.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, OUTFRONT: When we found out that there's people here related to us, that's when it felt real to me.

NARRATOR: And now they share those stories with you.

BURNETT: It's like going back in time.

CUOMO: My colonial ancestors were on the wrong side.


NARRATOR: Join the familiar faces of CNN as they trace their "ROOTS." All next week starting Sunday on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This the CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: There's some breaking news about the suspect in the disappearance of the University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham.

Just as authorities are about to wrap up their search of this eight mile radius around -- Charlottesville, there's new information coming in about the suspect, Jesse Matthew, and about another missing person case.

With us from Charlottesville, the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot. Also with us, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former assistant director of the FBI.

Coy, you have new information that police have stepped up the investigation of what's being described as a forensic link between the suspect, Jesse Matthew, in the 2009 murder of another student in the same area.

What are you learning?

COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Wolf, it became very apparent today that the Virginia State Police are ratcheting up their investigation into the possible ties between Jesse Matthew, who is charged with the abduction of Hannah Graham, and the abduction and murder of Morgan Harrington.

Morgan was last seen here in Charlottesville, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, last seen here on October 17th, 2009, almost exactly five years ago. Her remains were found three months later.

Virginia State Police have already confirmed that there is a forensic link between Mr. Matthew and Morgan's murder. So the question becomes, then, where was Jesse Matthew five years ago?

I have learned that he was living here in Charlottesville, in an apartment complex, and he was driving a cab. He was driving a cab for Access Taxi. It was a light brown van cab. And interestingly enough, there are eyewitnesses who say that Morgan was last seen getting into a van.

We can confirm here, and sources close to the investigation have told me, that police now have, after much searching, they have seized that same van cab that Mr. Matthew was driving in October of 2009. And we can assume that forensic investigations will begin immediately into what they might find in that cab.

BLITZER: And I'm hearing also, Coy, that you spoke to the company that owned that van that Matthew purchased.

What can you tell us about that?

BAREFOOT: I actually spoke with a person who worked for many years alongside Mr. Matthew. I was with this person this morning getting some of this person's memories of what took place and what he was like. And while we were talking, this person's cell phone rang and the Virginia State Police were on the line asking to speak with them immediately when they were done with me.

And so I can also confirm that the state police are reaching out to all the former employees of that cab company and they are interviewing them trying to learn where exactly was Jesse Matthew on the night that Morgan Harrington went missing and what was his behavior like in the wake of that incident.

I can also report here, for the first time, that this person told me when the wanted police sketch was released, police were searching for a man related to the abduction of Morgan Harrington, and this sketch was released, that everybody who worked with Jesse Matthew started teasing him and saying that he looked exactly like that guy in the sketch.

That has not been reported. I just learned it this morning. And I asked this person, how did he react? And they said, well, he -- some days he would laugh about it. Other days, he was very quiet about it. But they were all convinced, all the people that he worked with at the cab company, that he looked exactly like the guy in the sketch. And now, five years later, it would appear that police believe so, as well.

BLITZER: Tom, the Virginia State Police say they do have some sort of forensic link, not describing what it is, between Matthew and Harrington, the young woman. But they filed no charges against Matthew for the murder. It's a 5-year-old case.

How hard would it be to develop a real case against this guy in connection with the death of this young woman?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, apparently, it is difficult to put all these pieces of evidence together to have it get to a point where they can bring murder charges against him. So -- so it's obviously a methodical effort on their part to try to get, you know, the information correct.

One question I would have is going back to the time when these employees were teasing him about looking like the sketch, did anybody think about calling the police or, you know, making the comparison that not only did he look like the sketch, but drove a similar vehicle to what was being reported as the last vehicle she got into.

So, you know, that part of the investigation, obviously, needs to be renewed now and try to add that part of it, too.

BLITZER: And just to be precise, Coy, did they find any forensic evidence in that van?

BAREFOOT: That has not been reported. I can't confirm that at all. But we do know and we can confirm that they do have that van that he was driving five years ago and that is now in police custody.

BLITZER: The whole notion, though, that this case -- these cases, he's in jail right now, this Jesse Matthew, Tom, and so far they're -- they're holding him without bail, obviously. But it looks like it's going to be pretty difficult to file formal charges, especially if they don't find, you know, this young woman, the -- the body of Hannah Graham.

FUENTES: Right. And now doing the forensics on that van will be difficult because you will have literally hundreds of people that will have been in that vehicle over the course of time, leaving samples of their DNA. So there will be a lot of samples of DNA to try to compare it to, to see if any compare to Morgan Harrington.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there.

Tom Fuentes, Coy Barefoot, we'll continue our conversations. Obviously, we're watching this story closely.

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